The United States has tied with Myanmar, the former Burma, for sixth place among
countries that are holding the most journalists behind bars, according to a new
report by the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Each country is jailing five journalists. The United States is holding four
Iraqi journalists in detention centers in Iraq and one Sudanese, a cameraman
who works for Al Jazeera, at the United States Naval Base at Guantánamo
Bay, Cuba. None of the five have been charged with a specific crime.
This year, China topped the list of countries with the most journalists - 32
- in jail, many of them for activity on the Internet. This is the seventh year
in a row in which China has led the list.
Fifteen of the Chinese journalists are being held under national security legislation
for writing critically about the Communist Party online, the report said.
A total of 125 writers, editors and photojournalists were held in jails around
the world on Dec. 1, 2005, the report said. The tally is 3 higher than were
held on Dec. 1, 2004, but it is not the highest number in the 25 years that
the committee has been keeping track. The highest was 182 journalists jailed
Cuba ranked second with 24, Eritrea was third with 15, Ethiopia was fourth
with 13 and Uzbekistan ranked fifth, with 6 journalists in jail.
No American journalists are being held in jails anywhere in the world, the
committee said. The survey is taken on a single day each year and does not count
those who may have been held and released at other points during the year. Thus,
Judith Miller, a former reporter for The New York Times who served 85 days in
jail this summer for refusing to reveal a confidential source, was not included
because she was not incarcerated on Dec. 1.
The United States has made the list before because other journalists have been
in jail on Dec. 1 for refusing to reveal their sources. But Ann Cooper, executive
director of the committee, said this was the first year in which the United
States had been on the list for cases in which journalists had been held without
specific charges being filed against them.
"This is a country where we are trying to foster democracy," Ms.
Cooper said, referring to Iraq. "Detaining people in this fashion and holding
them for weeks and months with no charges against them - that is not a lesson